Video illustrates big impact of small choices on environment

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A screenshot of a new RIT animated video—made possible with funding from Staples Inc.—that illustrates the importance of sustainable purchasing decisions on the Earth.

Did you know that 55 percent of the rivers and streams in the United States are too polluted to support healthy aquatic life? Or that 40 percent of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air quality? How about that a quarter of the Earth’s land area is considered highly degraded?

These are just some of the daunting statistics that scroll on screen during a video produced at RIT illustrating the importance of sustainable purchasing decisions. Through animation, the video describes why it matters for people to buy “green” products and how those decisions can impact the environment.

Produced in part by the Staples Sustainable Innovation Lab (SSIL), located at and sponsored by RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) with funding from Staples Inc., the approximately two-minute video titled “small choices, Big Impact” was created to educate viewers on sustainability and the significance of their everyday purchases.

“We want to demonstrate to people how their purchases have a critical impact on the world around us,” said Brian Hilton, a senior staff engineer at GIS and director of SSIL who worked closely on the video with Patricia Donohue, senior engineer and Sustainable Supply Chain Program manager at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute.

“When we approach people on sustainability, they don’t always understand the impact a single product can have in terms of material use, energy, transportation and chemical use,” Donohue added. “Hopefully after seeing this video they will have a better idea.”

The video—created at RIT Production Services—ends by sharing encouraging developments: 20 percent of the world’s electricity is generated using renewable sources, more than 60 percent of paper in the U.S. is recycled each year, and material changes have restored the ozone layer to 1980 levels.

“People have to know and understand how their choices do make a difference and that there is hope for our planet,” Hilton observed. Team members plan to promote the online video to sustainable purchasing organizations and would like this to be the first in a series about every six months—to delve into impacts of sustainability and environmentally benign buying decisions.

Video extra

Go to to watch the video.